Never before did his preparation for the Tour de France go through the Critérium du Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse. Dylan Groenewegen always chose an easier sprinter’s round such as the ZLM Tour in order to boost his confidence for the Tour de France in the flatter sprints. In this tough Dauphiné he has so far failed to sprint in the three sprint stages. The Amsterdammer did gain the necessary race hardness with a view to the Tour.
Of course his face was on a thunderstorm when he crossed the finish line in Chaintré just three minutes after stage winner Wout van Aert. In the final through the hilly wine regions of Beaujolais and Bourgogne, he had to bow his head on the Côte de Vergisson (1.8 km at 4.3%) at 13 kilometers from the finish. This was normally Groenewegen’s last chance to sprint in this ‘small Tour de France’.
“You see that the other teams try to make it as hard as possible on that climb to release Dylan. A logical move to get rid of a fast man”, judged his team director Pieter Weening of Team BikeExchange-Jayco.
“The whole week it will be tough finals with considerable climbs”, emphasized Groenewegen. After he showered. “We knew this in advance and we also knew that it would be fifty-fifty whether I would still join. It is also not easy that the early break always stays ahead for a long time, so that the first peloton has to keep driving at full speed. I will take these tough finals with me towards the Tour later on.”
Within his new Australian team, the confidence in the Dutch top sprinter remains unprecedented. There is a real chance that Simon Yates will also start in the Tour de France after his retirement in the Giro d’Italia. However, this will not affect the important role Groenewegen will have on the Danish and French roads.
“If Simon goes along, it’s purely to go for the stage wins,” says sporting manager Matthew White. “Dylan doesn’t have to worry about his position. He gets enough men with him to make a good sprint train. We knew that this Dauphiné would be difficult for him, but we are also convinced that these tough stages will make him better for the Tour.”
It is precisely in his team that they have seen that Groenewegen’s values have been particularly good in recent weeks. In races such as Veenendaal-Veenendaal and the Tour of Hungary, he achieved wattages in the sprint that refer to his best years.
Focus on main goal
Groenewegen: “It sounds a bit crazy now because I’m still empty-handed. But the shape is better than ever. That may also indicate the level of this price. For a pure sprinter it is very difficult to survive the finals here. We know what we are doing and we also know that the Tour is the main goal of the year. I’m here to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.”
It is not that Groenewegen is disappointed with all three opportunities that were available to the sprinters in this Dauphiné. Although he had his sights set on the arrival of the fifth stage in Chaintré. “Three hundred meters before the top of the last climb I had a hard time. At the top it was still a bit sloping, uphill and downhill. Then you lose just too much ground to come back.”
Groenewegen somewhat contradicts whether this Dauphiné is a missed opportunity to work on the automatisms with his sprint train. After all, his lead-out Luca Mezgec is not there either, because he is now on an altitude internship. “I have already ridden a lot of races with most of the guys. After this I will go to the Tour of Slovenia and then take some rest in the run-up to the Tour.”
Despite the fact that the counter is at zero and he has not got around to sprinting, Groenewegen is still fully behind the choice to add this Dauphiné to his competition program.
“You can’t train against the hardness in this race,” emphasizes the Amsterdammer. “Not even if I had gone to Spain. If you look at the wattages over the whole day, this is a very tough competition. I hear that from the other riders too. Of course it would have been nice for the confidence to win a stage, but this tough race in the legs will take me further in the Tour than being successful in a flat stage race.”